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Authors: Jerry B. Jenkins,Chris Fabry

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The Author's Blood

BOOK: The Author's Blood
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The Wormling V: The Author's Blood

Copyright © 2008 by Jerry B. Jenkins. All rights reserved.

Cover illustration copyright © 2007 by Tim Jessell. All rights reserved.

Designed by Ron Kaufmann

Edited by Lorie Popp

Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the authors or publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Jenkins, Jerry B.

The Wormling V : the author's blood / Jerry B. Jenkins ; Chris Fabry.

p. cm.

Summary: Owen Reeder, the Wormling, faces a final battle with the Dragon, strengthened by his reading of The Book of the King and the knowledge that his friends and his very weakness can see him through his greatest challenge.

ISBN 978-1-4143-0159-4 (softcover)

[1. Adventure and adventurers—Fiction. 2. Conduct of life—Fiction. 3. Good and evil—Fiction. 4. Dragons—Fiction. 5. Fantasy.] I. Fabry, Chris, date. II. Title. III. Title: Wormling five. IV. Title: Author's blood.

PZ7.J4138Wov 2008

[Fic]—dc22 2007036549

For Jason

“You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”

C. S. Lewis

“No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.”

Ronald Reagan

“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

Woodrow Wilson

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”

Thucydides

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”

E. B. White

Table of Contents

1: A Royal Entrance

2: Owen

3: The Sentence

4: The Noise

5: Mrs. Rothem

6: History

7: Kweedrum and Lambachi

8: Mr. Reeder

9: Request

10: Connie

11: Princes of a Province

12: The Waters of Words

13: Nicodemus

14: Love Note

15: The Bargain

16: Buried Dreams

17: The Cloaked Figure

18: Heartbreak

19: Tusin's Breakfast

20: The Dragon's Secret

21: Drucilla

22: Machree

23: Dragon City

24: Flight

25: A Whispered World

26: End of the Earth

27: The Stranger

28: Thick Fog

29: Dungeon Questions

30: Man of Bones

31: Thaddeus

32: Survivors

33: Weak Protection

34: Talking with Mother

35: The Stain

36: Conflict in the Highlands

37: Preoccupied

38: Water Everywhere

39: Silent Scream

40: Keeping Watch

41: Carrying Dung

42: The Way of the Dragon

43: Onora's Interview

44: Heartfelt

45: The Games

46: The Circle of Tigren

47: The Wormling's Announcement

48: The Encampment

49: The Council

50: Gwenolyn

51: In Chains

52: The Visitor

53: The Dialogue

54: Torture

55: A New Wormling

56: The Coliseum

57: Instruments of War

58: Batwing

59: The Egg

60: Possibility

61: Clara's Discovery

62: The Frantic Search

63: Moving Toward Battle

64: The King

65: Attack

66: The Final Blow

67: The Wedding Song

Epilogue

Afterword

About the Authors

It was only fitting that the Queen's sentence should be handed down at the Castle of the Pines, her former home, because this was where the Dragon and his council retreated. Not that they ran from any battle, for there was no one to run from. Lowlanders lay defeated in country fields. The survivors hid, cowering.

The Dragon and his council members simply returned to the castle to relax, belch fire, torment slaves, and gloat about their victory over the bedraggled army of the Wormling.

RHM, now the longest living aide of the Dragon in history, attended to his master's every need, be it food, drink, or amusement. There was always amusement now and plans for more.

“Is the coliseum ready?” the Dragon said.

“Almost, sire. Your dwelling was in desperate need of repair, scorched as it was after your last assault there.”

“Yes, I recall the way the people scurried about, trying to get away. Delightful. Are there enough citizens left to be the sport of our games?”

“Plenty, sire. Young and old and some in between.”

“Good, good. I can't wait to watch them die in agony. Does it get any better than this?”

“Only when the Highlands are joined under your rule, sire. There will be plenty more amusement from the inhabitants there.”

The Dragon's eyes shone red and his teeth glistened. “Yes,” he hissed, drinking in the scene as if it were a sponge dipped in his favorite wine that he could suck on until the last bit was gone. “Is she here?” he said at last.

“She just arrived and the council has taken its place in the Hall of Meeting. Shall I announce you?”

The Dragon glanced at a stand that held a golden crown. “I shall wear that in her presence. A nice touch, don't you think?”

* * *

The council met in a vast room, which, even to an untrained eye, had once been ornate and splendid. Charred tapestries adorned the walls, murals now faded from the smoke graced either end, and from the ceiling hung colossal chandeliers. A masterpiece fashioned on the ceiling proved a stunning (though soot-covered) depiction of the Highlands, the Lowlands, and the invisible heavenly world—a crown and scepter leaning against a massive book, and the beings from these worlds kneeling, as if in worship to someone.

The council members this day, however, concentrated on the food slung about the table, goblets filled with drink, and bowls overflowing with fruits and nuts harvested from Lowlanders' farms. They chortled and told ribald stories (those we would not repeat) about their latest victories.

Only the presence of RHM at the door, clearing his throat, caused them to quiet. “It is my high honor and pleasure to present the supreme ruler, the preeminent power, who exercises decisive judgment, our king and sovereign, His Majesty, the Dragon.”

As one, the council stood. Some banged their weapons on the floor, while others rapped on the table. All yelled or howled or whooped, filling the whole room with an unearthly noise.

The Dragon sashayed in, eyes shining. He preened and raised his head, sending a blast of fire toward the ceiling and further charring the picture of the crown, scepter, and book. With a wave he signaled the others to be seated and took his place on the throne at the head of the table. “Before we get to the main course,” he said, chuckling, “I want reports. What of the so-called army of the Wormling?”

Slugspike rose at the other end of the table. He enjoyed such a prominent place not only because he had been appointed lead commander of the Dragon's armies but also because no one wanted to sit next to a being with such razor-sharp spines that oozed poison. Slugspike had volunteered to capture and kill the Wormling but had failed. Had the Dragon not done the job himself with his blast of fire at the White Mountain, he would have dispatched Slugspike. But, euphoric at being done with the Wormling and with victory in sight, the Dragon had restored him.

“We have paved the way for your new kingdom, sire,” Slugspike said through puffy cheeks. “All the rabble has been dispatched, with the exception of a few stragglers.”

“Stragglers?”

“Halflings and the like. We left them to bury the dead. We'll send a small contingent to take care of them when the job is finished.”

The Dragon turned to Velvel, the vaxor head of Lowland military affairs. He had come to power after Daagn had been killed by the Dragon. “And my command to assemble near Dragon City?” (Dragon City was a massive walled compound under repair. In its center lay the coliseum.)

“It has been heeded,” Velvel said. “The people seem glad to obey your imperial edict, sire, and to congregate in the valley while Dragon City is repaired. The coliseum is nearly—”

“Yes, yes, I've already heard.”

“How much longer before you attack the Highlands and bring them under your subjection?” General Prufro said.

The rest nodded and grunted.

“We had to evacuate the Highlands except for a skeleton crew. When the minions of time have done their work, we will purge the Highlands—by that time, anyone still living will need canes and walkers.”

“Minions of time?” someone said, laughing. “What a wonderful idea, sire.”

Finally the Dragon cleared his throat and nodded to RHM, who quickly left the room. “And now the moment you've all been waiting for,” the Dragon said. “I have a special treat. You have long known of our enemy and his Son. The older was killed long ago—incinerated—although we have had disturbing reports that he may have survived. The younger has surely been subdued by the attack of the minions. He went into hiding shortly before the Wormling invaded the Lowlands, and we will soon search for his body to make sure. We also have the alleged king and queen of the west in custody, and when their daughter is located in the Highlands, her blood will anoint my throne.”

“What have you prepared for us?” Slugspike said, drooling.

The Dragon rose and turned.

Through the doorway walked a woman so unkempt that she looked like one with no home and no hope. Her hands were tied behind her and her head downcast.

“I present the wife of our enemy,” the Dragon said, smiling.

Many in Owen's predicament would have quit. Against such odds, it would have been easier for him to simply crawl away and hide. How would the Dragon and his fiendish friends ever find him? However, as you will see, a hero, no matter his age or the odds against him, forges ahead and sees his quest to the end.

After the King had drawn the minions of time to himself and had plunged into an abyss, creating a hole in the basement of the B and B, and after Nicodemus, a messenger sent by the King, had spoken courageous words to Owen's heart, Owen had found a safe spot inside a room in the basement of the burned-out building. There, with the aid of a faint streetlamp that shone through the dead trees, he opened
The Book of the King
.

When your heart is weary and your strength nearly gone, do not fret or lose sleep. Your father knows what you need every moment of the day. Do his will. Follow his directions. And do not worry about what you will do tomorrow, for the path will become clear once you get there.

Owen closed the book and fell asleep on top of it,  exhausted from his trip to the Highlands. He had breached another portal—as it turned out, the third—and had discovered that Mr. Page was the King, his father. He had also discovered that his sister was Clara Secrest. And that the old woman in the back room of the shack was his future wife.

All this and much more swirled through his mind as he dreamed of the Lowlands. Watcher's face appeared before him. Then Humphrey and Erol came skipping through, singing. But soon the dream turned dark with a vision of RHM and the Dragon.

Owen awoke with a start and the word
Mother
on his tongue. Light flashed behind him, and he turned just as a crack of thunder resounded. The pitter-pat of rain sifted through broken glass and floorboards as did the creaking of wood from above. Owen tried to still his heart, breathing softly and straining to hear.

Muffled voices sounded overhead as something thumped on the floor. “What do you think made that hole?” a high-pitched voice said.

“I don't know,” another whined. “The thing sure looks deep.”

“Notice anything funny?” High Pitch said.

“You mean the sign that says Slow Children? I don't think it's funny. I think it's cruel. Those children can't help it that they're slow.”

“No, I mean strange, like a noise that should be here but isn't.”

A pause. “Like screaming and wailing and crying, people in pain, writhing, screeching, and bawling like animals that have just been stuck with a—”

“Would you please stop?”

“I was just telling you what I didn't hear,” Whiner said.

“The buzzing. You know, from the minions.”

“Oh. That. Yeah, I don't hear it either. What do you think happened to them? Could they be resting? All that buzzing must make them tired. Don't you think?”

Another pause. “How you were chosen to be a revellor for the Dragon, I'll never understand.”

Revellor?
Watcher had once described them as powerful, ferocious, quick-as-lightning beings with sharp claws. Owen remained still. The voices didn't sound ferocious, but voices could be deceiving. He wanted to slip out the window and run, but he couldn't help wondering what they were doing here. What were they looking for? Minions?

Wings flapped and a third voice joined the other two, this one deep and sonorous (which means it boomed like the guy who announces the movie trailers at the theater). “What have you found?”

Whiner and High Pitch fought to answer, but Movie Voice stopped them. “Are you saying the minions are gone?”

“We don't hear them any longer,” High Pitch said. “They could be underground, I suppose, waiting for daylight. . . .”

“Or they could be playing,” Whiner said. “You know, like hide-and-seek. Only it would be hide-and-bite.”

“Be quiet,” Movie Voice said. “I've seen movement in the homes in the area. Not everyone has been stung. Not even close. If the minions are gone—”

“Maybe they made a mistake and moved to another town,” High Pitch said.

“They do not make mistakes. They were sent here to find the Son and the two girls. To sting them all and make them of no use to the enemy.”

“Maybe they did,” Whiner said.

“Or perhaps the Son discovered some way to chase them away.” Movie Voice groaned. “At any rate, it is safe now. We can go back to His Majesty and report our findings.”

“And the purging will begin?” Whiner said. “I can't wait.”

Purging?

“Yes,” Movie Voice said. “It is time to unite the worlds to honor the true king. And the people of this world must die.”

BOOK: The Author's Blood
6.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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